Extent and predictors of stigma experienced by patients with schizophrenia

P Switaj, J Wciórka, J Smolarska-Switaj, P Grygiel
European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists 2009, 24 (8): 513-20

BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia is regarded as one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses. Relatively few studies have investigated actual stigma experiences among people with schizophrenia and the factors which may contribute to it.

AIMS: This cross-sectional study assesses the extent of stigma experienced by patients with schizophrenia and attempts to establish its clinical and sociodemographic predictors.

METHODS: A total of 153 subjects with schizophrenia (62 outpatients and 91 inpatients) were evaluated with the use of the Stigma section of the Consumer Experiences of Stigma Questionnaire (CESQ) and several instruments measuring their subjective quality of life, social functioning and severity of psychiatric symptoms.

RESULTS: Stigmatization experiences were common among respondents who most frequently reported having concealed their illness (86%), witnessed others saying offensive things about the mentally ill (69%), worried about being viewed unfavorably (63%) and been treated as less competent (59%). Higher levels of stigma were related to lower subjective quality of life and younger age of illness onset. No significant associations were found between stigma and symptoms or level of social functioning.

CONCLUSION: Our findings point at the reduced life satisfaction as a key aspect of the subjective experience of the stigma of schizophrenia.

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